Happiness, as Such | Natalia Ginzburg

Happiness, as Such

by Natalia Ginzburg

with an introduction by Claire-Louise Bennett


Translated from Italian by Minna Zallman Proctor

Published October 2019
ISBN: 9781911547440
Format: Paperback

Also available as an eBook:

New translation by Minna Zallman Proctor

‘Dear Michele, she wrote, I’m writing principally to tell you that your father is sick. Go visit him. He says he hasn t seen you for days.’

Michele is the beloved only son of a large, dysfunctional family in 1970s Italy. Headstrong and independent, he has disappeared to London without explanation. Back in Italy, his father lies dying. Michele’s departure sets forth a series of events that will bring together everyone in his life – his mother Adriana, living in the countryside with her two twin daughters Bebetta and Nannetta, his long-suffering sister Angelica, his loyal and sad friend Osvaldo, and Mara, a young woman who is prone to showing up on doorsteps with a baby that may or may not be Michele’s.

The story of the Prodigal Son turned on its head, Happiness, as Such is a short, absurdly funny novel-in-letters about complicated families and missed connections.

‘Ginzburg is a unique voice and there’s a direct simplicity to her prose that makes her dry observations all the more riveting’ – The Guardian

‘Her novel Caro Michele, first published in 1973 and now reissued as Happiness, as Such in a fluid translation by Minna Zallman Proctor, is about the ties that bind a family living apart. Ginzburg, who died in 1991, is being fêted anew outside Italy – in part, one suspects, thanks to Ferrante fever.’— TLS

‘This deeply moving novel is a masterpiece.’ – Book Riot

‘…the most popular of Ginzburg’s novels, and it’s easy to see why as the author explores the bonds holding a family together with blunt pragmatism but great warmth and humour.’ – The Herald

‘Ginzburg gives us a new template for the female voice and an idea of what it might sound like.’ – Rachel Cusk

‘Ginzburg’s beautiful words have such solidity and simplicity. I read her with joy and amazement.’ – Tessa Hadley

‘These books snare so much of what is odd and lovely and fleeting in the world. It is work that saved and sustained the writer after unimaginable loss. It buoys us up, too.’  – Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

‘If Ferrante is a friend, Ginzburg is a mentor.’ – Lara Feigel, Guardian

‘Her prose style is deceptively simple and very complex. Its effect on the reader is both calming and thrilling – that’s not so easy to do.’ – Deborah Levy

‘I’m utterly entranced by Ginzburg’s style – her mysterious directness, her salutary ability to lay things bare that never feels contrived or cold, only necessary, honest, clear.’ – Maggie Nelson

‘Her sentences have great precision and clarity, and I learn a lot when I read her.’ – Zadie Smith

There is no one quite like Ginzburg for telling it like it is.’ – Phillip Lopate

‘Her simplicity is an achievement, hard-won and remarkable, and the more welcome in a literary world where the cloak of omniscience is all too readily donned.’ –William Weaver, The New York Times